Why was Francesca Bridgerton recast for the Netflix show’s third season?

Hannah Dodd as Francesca Bridgerton
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Spoilers ahead

This week has seen Bridgerton return to Netflix, with the delayed third instalment reigniting our love of regency core, string quartet covers and Julie Andrews. 

The highly anticipated third season is centred around one of the show's most popular plot lines - the love story between Colin Bridgerton and Penelope Featherington (Lady Whistledown herself). 

But also stepping up into a headline role is Francesca Bridgerton, one of the younger Bridgerton children, as she makes her grand debut in society - and gets selected as Queen Charlotte’s “sparkler” for the season. 

It is Francesca Bridgerton’s casting that has made the most news, with Ruby Stokes, the actress playing the role for the show’s first two seasons, replaced in season three by Hannah Dodd. 

This, according to reports, is down to a scheduling conflict, with Stokes leaving the show after season two to film a new supernatural show, Lockwood & Co. 

Hannah Dodd attends the Queen's Platinum Jubilee Bulgari celebrations

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Thankfully, the transition appears to have been seamless, with Bridgerton’s creators praising Dodd for the ease with which she joined the cast.

"It's really wonderful to truly welcome Hannah - and Francesca,” explained show runner Shonda Rhimes. “We've only ever seen tiny bits of Francesca in seasons past, and in this season she's back from having travelled and she's ready to get married, and you really get to know who Fran is. Fran's always been the invisible sister, and now she becomes front and centre in a lot of ways for us to get to know."

"[Hannah Dodd] is ridiculously smart and talented,” added director Tom Verica. “She was seamless. She hit the ground running. It's got to be pretty intimidating to step into this world, especially with all these actors knowing one another.

"She revealed later in the season that she was just absolutely terrified, which we didn't see at the time,” he went on to recall. “But we kind of assumed that stepping into this environment could be very tough. We were very clear about welcoming her and making her feel at home, but she was just absolutely seamless, stepping right into this role and really giving us a fresh take on Francesca.”

Well, that’s lovely.

Bridgerton Season 3 Part 1 is available to watch now on Netflix, and Bridgerton Season 3 Part 2 lands next month on June 13.

Jenny Proudfoot
Features Editor

Jenny Proudfoot is an award-winning journalist, specialising in lifestyle, culture, entertainment, international development and politics. She has worked at Marie Claire UK for seven years, rising from intern to Features Editor and is now the most published Marie Claire writer of all time. She was made a 30 under 30 award-winner last year and named a rising star in journalism by the Professional Publishers Association.